March 5, Wednesday: How has being a Latina influenced your identity and outlook on life?
Today I met Josefina Vazquez Mota, one of Mexico's first female presidential candidates. She ran for the 2012 presidential elections. I remember I was in Thailand at the time and wasn't able to vote for her but was hugely concerned over whether she would win. In the end, she wasn't elected, but was still hugely recognized. Today, in New York City, she presented her book on the success stories of Mexicans in the US, titled "El sueño que unió la frontera."
Josefina is a Latina like you and I. She was born in Mexico but believes in the power of Latinos, not only in the US, but in Latin America as well. Here or there we're all bound to fight for a cause, she expressed.
I grew up believing I needed to belong somewhere. One place, only one. I was born in Brownsville, Texas (as I have probably mentioned a million times) and would drive to Mexico every other weekend. With time, I realized that I loved both places, but I also knew they weren't very similar, and this caused a feeling of contradiction within me. What place would I choose to be from?
In Texas, I was known as the Mexican, and in Mexico, I was known as the gringa. It bothered me and I tried to make myself believe that what most bothered me was when my Mexican friends called me a gringa. I wanted to say out loud "No, I'm Mexican. 100%" But I think what I really wanted to say was that I didn't have to give explanations of where I was from, not to my friends in Mexico nor in the US. I was, and am, simply a compilation of cultures, as most of us now are.
As a Latina, I have of course identified myself with women who come from Latin American descent and who live in the US, but at the same time I have also largely identified myself with Latin American women who have never lived in the US. This sentiment shows that being a Latina is not really a matter of finding an explanation for being different or being alike anyone. We are simply a culture that has grown over centuries in a wide spread area, now extending to the US. Our growth ran its natural course.
Being a Latina has allowed me to explore deep within my culture and understand that "belonging everywhere" is actually more of a reality than "belonging to one place." It has allowed me to understand that we're all a compilation of cultures, and embracing this very idea, allows me to feel that I'm actually not that culturally bizarre or different, and that's quite alright.